Rogue Males: Richard Burton, Howard Marks and Sir Richard Burton
Sir Richard Burton is best known as an explorer and translator of Arabian and Indian books, many of them sexually explicit. He was known as “Ruffian Dick” and led a life well beyond the pale of the typical Victorian. Richard Burton was a very famous actor with a brilliant voice and the looks to accompany it. Sometimes known as “Beer Burton”, he married Elizabeth Taylor twice and led a life which was often as dramatic as the characters that he played. Howard Marks became famous as a cannabis smuggler. He used the alias “Mr Nice” and adopted this as the title of a book that describes his exploits and ultimate incarceration in an American jail.
Each of these men has a roguish streak to their character, but they also have a number of other things in common – one of which is that they each began their adult life at Oxford University. In fact they attended three colleges which stand, cheek by jowl on Oxford’s Broad Street: Exeter, Balliol and Trinity. Each was a master of disguise, though for rather different ends. Each was a great traveller, Howard for the drug trafficking, Richard for the film sets and Sir Richard for exploration and consular duties. They were all writers. Two of them were Welsh, two shared a name, two are dead, and all three are famous in their different ways. Finally they were all iconoclasts, mould breakers in different times and in different worlds.
This book illuminates the fascinating lives of each of these interesting men, but also speculates on how they might react to each other. It recreates the Oxford that bred them, traces their subsequent lives, and then leads them back to the city so that they can meet and discourse upon: American hegemony, the freedom to consume drugs, the role of feminism and the value of education. These topics are exposed to the soaring intellectuality and conservatism of the older Burton, the articulation of the younger Burton and the liberality of Marks. The results are sometimes shocking, always interesting, and often edifying.
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Setting the Scene
Ruffian Dick Childhood and Oxford
Ruffian Dick Explorer Consul and Translator
Beer Burton Coal Miners Son to Oxford Student
Beer Burton Navigator Thespian and Star
Mr Nice Sailors Son to Oxford Graduate
Mr Nice Post Graduate to Pot Bootlegger
A Visit to Mortlake
Return to Oxford
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